Thursday, January 27, 2011

Almond Chicken Penne

This recipe is from Giada. Apparently this is a classic Italian dish. I wish the pictures did it justice. They don't. It was really delicious. I love how creamy the almonds and chicken stock get when blended. The warmed peas? Delicious. The fresh basil? So good. And the lemon zest?  Are you kidding?  Get outta here.  You have to try it. It's a creamy pasta without all the fattening butter and milk and flour.  Really easy too.

1 pound penne pasta
2 cups (9 ounces) blanched, slivered almonds
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 store-bought, rotisserie chicken breasts, skinned, boned and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
1 cup frozen petite peas
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 large lemon, zested
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups grated Parmesan
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.

In a blender, combine the almonds, chicken stock, olive oil, and garlic. Blend until the mixture is smooth.

Pour the mixture into a large skillet and turn the heat on to medium. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chicken, peas, cream and lemon zest. Cook, stirring frequently until the chicken is heated through, about 4 minutes (mixture will be thick). Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Put the cooked pasta into a serving bowl and add 1/2 cup of the Parmesan. Toss together until the pasta is coated. Add the chicken mixture, the remaining cheese and the basil. Toss the ingredients together, adding the reserved pasta water, as needed, to loosen the sauce. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve.

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